What is Nordic Combined? The Ultimate Guide To The Winter Olympic Sport | GMTM

What is Nordic Combined? The Ultimate Guide To The Winter Olympic Sport

ByScotty Jenkins

Published on Sun Dec 19 2021


4 min read

What is Nordic Combined? The Ultimate Guide To The Winter Olympic Sport

The two events included in Nordic Combined are quite different: cross-country skiing, which requires endurance, and ski jumping, the daredevil event that rewards courage, aerodynamic form, and a slight body.

There are three different nordic combined disciplines on the 2022 Olympic program, all of which are men's competitions. The details of each different Nordic Combined event are summed up below:

  • Individual Normal Hill: One scored ski jump on the normal hill (K98) followed by a 10km cross-country ski competition
  • Individual Large Hill: One scored ski jump on the large hill (K125) followed by a 10km cross-country ski competition
  • Team Event: Teams of four jumpers from the same country each take one jump from the large hill (K125). Then, the same four skiers compete in the 4x5km cross country ski relay, which is held on the same day on a 20km course.

The First Event: Ski Jumping

The day starts with each competitor taking two ski jumps, scoring points for distance and style.

This competition is carried out just like a normal Ski Jumping competition in the Olympics. But, instead of the best ski jumpers being awarded a medal after their winning jumps, the best jumper earns a head start in the cross-country event that follows, with the next best jumper following him and so on.

This staggered start based on the point conversion system where points back from the leader to start times is called a Gundersen start, named for Norwegian Gunder Gunderson one of the founders of the combined sport.

Judging And Scoring The Ski Jumping Portion

A ski jumping score is assessed after with distance points given jump based on the distance jumped and the style points given by the judges based on form and landing. Both scoring components are based on a 60 point scale, with the more points awarded for the distance the closer the ski jumper lands to the K point.

What is the K Point in ski jumping?

The K point is where the landing hill starts to flatten out, roughly 2/3 of the way down the hill. More than 60 points can be awarded for the distance portion if a competitor lands past this mark, but it is quite a feat. Each meter under or over the K point is equivalent to 2 points on the Normal Hill and 1.8 points on the Large Hill. The K-point on the Olympic Normal Hill is 98 meters (K98) and is 125 meters on the Olympic Large Hill (K125). That means some of the best ski jumpers in the Large Hill event will fly as far as one-and-a-half football fields before landing near the K point.

How are style points assessed in ski jumping?

Five judges give scores on a 0 to 20 scale after a competitor jumps, but the highest and lowest scores are eliminated. A maximum of 60 points is awarded for the style portion. Judges evaluate a jumper from the moment he leaves the ramp - or "take-off" - to the point when they pass the "fall-line" after landing. In that time, judges will deduct points for:

  • not making a bold or aggressive launch from the take-off
  • not bending their skis up to build "an entire flying system" by combining with their body
  • not utilizing air pressure through the flight
  • not maintaining a stable body structure during the duration of the flight
  • not having a symmetrical position between both skis during flight
  • not obtaining a smooth landing with arms outstretched, head and upper body forward, skis parallel, and muscles activated to reduce the impact
  • not remaining in the balanced position for 15 meters after landing
  • not turning the skis to slow down and come to a balanced stop

Judges will deduct fractions of a point for any motion that isn't aesthetically pleasing or technically correct in the duration of the flight, landing, or outrun.

For both individual Nordic combined events, the starting order for ski jumping is the same. The order is based on each athletes' world ranking at the time, with the highest-ranked athlete jumping last.

The Second Event: Cross-Country Skiing

Next up is a 10-kilometer cross-country race. Competitors start based on their performance in ski jumping: The best ski jumper takes off first, then the others follow, with the next best ski jumper taking off a few seconds after the last.

How Do You Use The Gunderson Start Method?

Because ski jumping and cross-country skiing events have two different ways of determining a winner, the IOC has always had trouble scoring the Nordic Combined event. Sk Jumping decides a champion through a point system. And cross-country skiing is a timed event.

The Gunderson Method makes it possible to give an advantage to the athletes that do well in ski jumping and determine a winner of the combined events at the end of the race. It is assigned by going down the leaderboard after the ski jumping portion and awarding a 4-second head start for each point that separates each athlete.

For example, if a competitor entered the cross-country ski portion with a score of 139 Jump Points and the next best finisher entered with 137 Jump Points, the first competitor would be given an 8-second head start for the 2-point differential.

After the staggered start, athletes race around the 10-kilometer course over hills and around hairpin turns. The first skier who crosses the finish line in the Cross-Country portion is declared the overall winner.

Nordic Combined is raced on the same track - or a portion of the same track - used for Cross-Country Skiing and Biathlon. Athletes also use the skating Cross-Country technique for all races, similar to the style used in Biathlon, which is another combined Winter Games event.

After the race, gold, silver, and bronze are given to the top three finishers, respectively.

Nordic combined is the only Olympic sport (summer or winter) that features only a men’s event.

Why is there not a Nordic Combined event for women at the Olympics?

Women's Nordic Combined is not an Olympic sport yet, but there has been momentum by the ISF to add it to future Winter Games. Only recently was Women's Ski Jumping added to the Winter Olympics, so the sport could only grow as fast as one of its two events did.

In October 2017, the U.S. held its first-ever women’s nordic combined national championships. Three years later in December of 2020, the first women’s Nordic Combined World Cup event took place in Ramsau, Austria.

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